02/17/2009 - Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation’s new president has another new title to add to his resume as a leader in agriculture issues – director of the American Farm Bureau Federation.
Mark Haney, second from right, was elected to the American Farm Bureau Federation board of directors just a month after he took over as president of Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation. He will become president of the insurance company’s board in March. Joining him on the new executive committee of the state organization are, from left to right: Eddie Melton, second vice president, and John C. Hendricks, first vice president. David S. Beck, right, is federation’s executive vice president.
Haney was elected to be a representative of the Southern region on the American Farm Bureau’s board of directors during the AFBF annual meeting in January – a month after his election as president of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Federation.
He joins another Kentuckian on the national board, fellow Kentucky Farm Bureau director Terry Gilbert of Danville, who was re-elected to head the AFBF Women’s Leadership Committee for another two-year term in January. The women’s committee leader automatically serves on the AFBF board of directors.
John C. Hendricks of Winchester, who was elected to succeed Haney as Kentucky Farm Bureau’s first vice president in December, also has an AFBF leadership role; he was appointed in November to an eight-member task force to investigate ways to reduce the federal budget deficit.
Haney, an apple and beef producer in Pulaski County, said his presence on the national organization’s board gives Kentuckians another voice in shaping farm and rural policies to ensure a safe and affordable food supply in the United States and to continue strengthening the export markets that can contribute to the nation’s economic wellbeing.
“It goes full circle,” he said. “It takes a thriving agricultural industry to have a strong economy, and it takes a strong economy to have a thriving agricultural industry. We’ve got to make our small town neighbors and urban friends understand what it takes to farm.”
An experienced Kentucky Farm Bureau and civic leader, Haney also will become president of Kentucky Farm Bureau Insurance Cos. in March, succeeding Marshall Coyle who announced his retirement as the federation and insurance operations president in late 2008.
Haney has said that he is “humbled and excited” to lead the 89-year-old state organization to address issues affecting all sectors of Kentucky.
“I believe in the way we accomplish things,” he said. “When we have 470,000 voices singing from the same page – that is powerful.”
As president, Haney said he represents the interests of all members, whether they live on an isolated farm or a neighborhood in Kentucky’s larger cities.
“The message is what affects Mark Haney the farmer affects residents of small towns and large metropolitan areas.”
Haney said he also is proud to be a leader of “the best group of employees you can find anywhere. Kentucky Farm Bureau has grown because of the dedication and hard work of our agents and office staffs who are working day-in and day-out in the best interest of our member-families.”
He also said he anticipates more growth in the future – especially in the insurance business – as Kentucky Farm Bureau adopts new technology that makes its easier for people to compare costs, services and pay bills on-line 24 hours a day. “We will continue to adapt to changing market conditions and have the tools that can make us more efficient and competitive.”
The ultimate reason for Kentucky Farm Bureau’s strength as the largest association representing farm interests and No.1 property-and-casualty insurer in the state, however, will remain constant, Haney said.
“We will never change our commitment to being there in-person when our members need us, whether it is a farm-related issue or help with a claim,” he said. “That is what sets us apart.”
Haney is active in economic development efforts in the Somerset area and is an experienced farm leader on local, state and national levels.
He is a former president of the Kentucky Center for Cooperative Development, the Kentucky Horticultural Society and Pulaski County Farm Bureau. He has a decade of experience on the Kentucky Farm Bureau executive committee and served as first vice president after Coyle’s election to his first one-year term in 2005.
He and wife Marlene, a veteran Pulaski County educator, have two sons and a daughter.
Mark and his brother, Don, produce apples and peaches and raise beef cattle near Nancy outside Somerset. They sell fresh produce from their orchards – as well as cider, jellies and other products – at a Kentucky Farm Bureau Certified Roadside Market located on the farm.
When Mark Haney expressed an interest in young farmers groups and Farm Bureau leadership roles years ago, his brother said they made a decision on how to handle their farming operations to allow both to pursue their interests. “Farm Bureau is so important that we think that it is just the right thing to do,” Don Haney said.
His support for the new Kentucky Farm Bureau president is unwavering.
“Mark is very level headed, and he sees the big picture really well,” Don Haney said. “The first step to correcting a problem is identifying the problem, and he is very good at that. Not everybody has that ability.”
In addition to Haney and Hendricks, Eddie Melton of Sebree was chosen to serve on the Kentucky Farm Bureau executive committee in December when he was elected second vice president.
Hendricks has been a Kentucky Farm Bureau director since 1998 and heads the organization’s Health Care Task Force and Beef Cattle Advisory and Large Animal Veterinarian committees. He also is president of Clark County Farm Bureau and is a member of the Clark County Soil Conservation board of directors, Cattlemen’s Association and Ag Development Council.
Melton, a former president of Webster County Farm Bureau, is chairman of the Kentucky Farm Bureau Grains and Wheat Advisory Committee, a director of the Corn Growers Promotion Board and is vice chairman of the Southern States Cooperative board.
Coyle, a Kentucky Farm Bureau director since 1976, will remain on the board as immediate past president.